Pinterest, the image-search app with 175 million users, helps brand advertisers to engage with their audiences, according to a study from real-time information provider Neustar. Pinners who engaged with an advertiser's content on the social network had a 40% larger shopping cart at checkout, the study said.
Paid impressions were 30% more effective at driving in-store or ecommerce sales than online display ads, the next best performing channel. Pinterest ads also delivered an impressive 28-to-1 return on ad spend.
User clicks gave retailers a 6x boost in sales, beating out impressions, image close-ups and re-pins, per the study.
Brand advertisers' positive results on Pinterest is encouraging for the company, which is trying to define itself in a digital advertising landscape ruled by Google and Facebook. With 175 million users, Pinterest is about the same size as Snapchat, which gets greater scrutiny as a public company facing a major threat from Facebook. Pinterest would likely meet the same skepticism from Wall Street and the media if it had a publicly listed stock whose daily gyrations reflected investor sentiment.
Pinterest is pushing into autoplay video ads, a format popularized by Facebook, to bolster revenue and lure more advertisers. Major brands have seen positive results from video ads on Pinterest, the company said this week in a blog post. Visa saw a 33% gain in being considered the most innovative payment option among its target demographic. Universal Pictures targeted women already planning weekend activities to promote its blockbuster movie "Girls Trip," boosting interest in the film. Cheetos saw a 51% gain in purchase intent among its target demographic, according to Pinterest.
The decision to embrace autoplay video ads doesn't come without potential issues, however. Users are looking for less intrusive experiences and may find videos that automatically turn on to be annoying. This is what Snapchat discovered with autoplay Stories, a feature that was turned off last fall following user complaints. The conundrum for platforms is that autoplay drives engagement for brands. Pinterest hopes it can offer the right balance between an enjoyable user experience and monetization, despite adopting promoted videos rather late compared to competitors.
Marketers have complained about inaccurate viewership numbers, but Pinterest is addressing those issues by partnering with third-party measurement companies like Moat, whose data may help advertisers reach their targets among the platform's generally young, female and aspiration-minded audience.
Pinterest is seeking 67% growth in revenue to at least $500 million this year, according to press reports. Before offering video ads, the company had one type of ad offering, Promoted Pins, which let marketers push their image or video posts to users who may not follow them on the service. Autoplay video ads are clearly an important part of the company's growth strategy this year as video starts to command more of users' time, especially on mobile screens.